Issue 10, 2020

Gene expression profiling of copper-resistant Caco-2 clones


The Caco-2 cell line is composed of a heterogeneous mix of cells; isolation of individual clonal populations from this mix allows for specific mechanisms and phenotypes to be further explored. Previously we exposed Caco-2 cells to inorganic copper sulphate or organic copper proteinate to generate resistant variant populations. Here we describe the isolation and characterisation of clonal subpopulations from these resistant variants to organic (clone Or1, Or2, Or3) or inorganic (clone In1 and In2) copper. The clones show considerable homogeneity in response to Cu-induced toxicity and heterogeneity in morphology with variations in level of cross-resistance to other metals and doxorubicin. Population growth was reduced for Cu-resistant clones In2 and Or3 in selective pressure relative to parental Caco-2 cells. Gene expression analysis identified 4026 total (2102 unique and 1924 shared) differentially expressed genes including those involved in the MAP Kinase and Rap1 signalling pathways, and in the focal adhesion and ECM-receptor contact pathways. Gene expression changes common to all clones included upregulation of ANXA13 and GPx2. Our analysis additionally identified differential expression of multiple genes specific to copper proteinate exposure (including overexpressed UPK1B) in isolated clones Or1, Or2 and Or3 and CuSO4 exposure (including decreased AIFM2 expression) in isolated clones In1 and In2. The adaptive transcriptional responses established in this study indicate a cohort of genes, which may be involved in copper resistance regulation and chronic copper exposure.

Graphical abstract: Gene expression profiling of copper-resistant Caco-2 clones

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
15 May 2020
31 Jul 2020
First published
06 Aug 2020

Metallomics, 2020,12, 1521-1529